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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ignore the trauma, focus on the art

On January 25 of this year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an oped written by a woman using the name Olive Allen. The oped was entitled "In defense of Jason McClean's artistic vision," and it was a response to a friend of mine who was calling for boycotts of McLean's Twin Cities venues. Olive Allen turned out to be Kay L. Hansen. Hansen admitted to only having spoken with McLean a few times, but decided she adored him and his businesses so much, she needed us to ignore the trauma Jason McLean perpetrated, and focus on his art.

A number of women have come forward and accused Jason McLean of raping them while they were students at the Children's Theatre Conservatory School in Minneapolis. Since I am not an attorney, and I know these women, I am not going to use the word alleged in this article. I believe that Jason McLean raped my friends when they were teenagers. I believe this because while I was not a victim of McLean's, I was the victim of another teacher, and CTC was an institution that actively enabled child rapists.

After it all hit the fan in 1984, students and parents were effectively told to ignore the trauma, and focus on the art. Focus on how famous and loved Children's Theatre was. Focus on the money CTC received from donors, grants, and the state. Focus on the plays, and the set design, and the cover story in Smithsonian magazine, and the gushing comments from luminaries like Joel Grey. We were told exactly the same thing Kay. L. Hansen told us in her oped.

She starts her piece with:
The Loring Pasta Bar and Varsity Theater — just like the old Loring Bar and Cafe and Kitty Cat Klub — are bigger than Jason McLean. Whatever you may think of the man (who, let’s not forget, is still only accused in lawsuits stemming from the Children’s Theatre Company sex abuse scandal of the 1980s), let’s not undervalue the profound impact he’s had on Minneapolis art and design culture and “throw the baby out with the bath water” by boycotting his venues.
We were told Children's Theatre was bigger than John Clark Donahue, and Steven Adamczak, and Don Fogelberg. We were told that by telling the truth, we would be helping to destroy an important institution. We were shamed, bullied, threatened, and silenced. Ignore the trauma, focus on the art.

Ms. Hansen spends eight paragraphs attempting to prove her point: Raping young girls isn't as important as making Dinkytown hip. Then she finishes with this:
So what I would suggest is this: Follow the story, sure, but do not rush to tear down these iconic establishments — these poems to Minneapolis — like some ISIL mob destroying tombs in Palmyra. Visionaries with talent (flawed, tempestuous, rebellious) are not born every day, and their work is not easily replaced.
Follow the story, sure. How flippant. Poems of Minneapolis. Uh huh. Did you notice how Ms. Hansen compares asking for boycotts to sacred tombs being destroyed by a terrorist group? To Ms. Hansen, we are terrorists, trying to destroy her precious art. We are survivors, Ms. Hansen, who have known hell on earth. We were molested, raped, abused, by people we trusted. We were brainwashed into thinking that was okay, because we were special, because it was normal. We were told to ignore the trauma, focus on the art.

Kay L. Hansen's oped angered me so much, I joined the civil suit against Children's Theatre. No one is ever going to tell me my trauma is less important than anyone's art, or club, or restaurant, or venue, or theater. Not again.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dear fellow liberals: Stop Fighting Each Other

Oh my goodness. The hate and vitriol being slung around the internet like so much monkey shit is ridiculous at the moment. Liberals have turned against each other, and for conservatives, it is glorious to behold. Conservatives know that if we can't get it together, we will all be saying howdy to President Trump or President Cruz in ten months, and they are positively giddy.

The next president will choose Supreme Court nominees. A conservative president will choose judges who want to reinstate DOMA and DADT, overturn Roe v Wade, and keep Citizens United. The next president will decide if the U.S. should continue being a perpetual invading force, or if we can stop making veterans. The next president just might be a man who wants to ban all Muslims from entering our country, or a man who thinks carpet bombing means surgical strikes. 

So by all means, let's keep calling Hillary Clinton a witch and a shill. Keep calling Bernie Sanders a communist and a financial idiot. Please post those awful memes that claim the most important thing about the next president is how cool they are. Please tell Sanders supporters they're morons, and call Clinton supporters closet conservatives. Because that will guarantee a right-wing sociopath slithers his way into the Oval Office in November.

Pundits level sexist attacks against Hillary, while others insult Sanders for his idealism. Who do I support? That's between me and my ballot. But in November, I will vote for the Democrat who winds up being the nominee. Because I would rather have one of our extremely qualified candidates in the White House than a conservative sociopath who thinks being LGBT is evil, brown-skinned people are all terrorists and thugs, and Christianity is the only religion that matters.

What do you want? Are you so fanatical about your candidate that you're one of the many who say "If <insert Sanders or Clinton here> isn't on the ballot, I'm not gonna vote!"? Yeah, that will teach us all a lesson. When abortion is illegal, when we've blown up most of the Middle East, when discrimination is a protected right, when gay marriage is illegal again, when the 1% gets richer while the middle class continues to disappear, you can smirk and say "Showed you." 

And when you need health insurance, or an abortion, or you want to marry your same-sex partner, remember the moment you decided not to vote. Remember the exact second you chose to bitch and whine rather than to join with others to keep conservative sociopaths out of the White House. 

Or you could stop it now. We could stop all the infighting, pull together, and focus on what we need to do to make sure our great nation stays that way. It's up to us. We have two amazing candidates from which to choose; it's a win-win. But if we'd rather act like petulant toddlers, it's a lose-lose-lose. 

Sanders or Clinton is better than watching 60 years of social justice disappear. Sanders or Clinton is better than watching my LGBT friends go back to being second (or third) class citizens. Sanders or Clinton is better than killing the family members of ISIS, or a theocracy, or legal discrimination, or illegal abortion. 

We've got to stop, or in ten months, we will be too late.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Presenting Patrick Stevens, Craig's List Scammer

We are selling a dining room set on Craig's List. A few people have contacted us, seemingly interested, only to disappear after stating they want the table and chairs. Given we only have two weeks to sell this dining room set, due to a move, we jump at anyone who contacts us.

Enter Patrick Stevens. Mr. Stevens contacted my husband about a week ago, stating he wanted to buy the dining room set. The emails from Mr. Stevens to my husband, and later, myself, are included in this article unedited. Here is the first one:
Sorry your email did not get to me until now, I would have come andtake a look but am on a business trip now so i wouldn't be able tocome but am okay with the price,i would be very glad to inform youthat,i will have my employer Secretary to mail a certified check frommy salary to cover the cost of the item and also offer you extra $50or more to keep the item for me. Also you should be aware that youwon't be responsible for shipping as i will have my movers come overand pick it up as soon as the check clears Please Provide with theName and address to be on the check then Your Cell Number to have thepayment mail to you asap.
The email address on this message is patrickstevens507@gmaildotcom. This is not the original email address, however. The first email address was patrickstevensaz@gmaildotcom. Once Patrick thought he had hooked his fish, he changed email addresses. First giveaway. 

My husband responded:
Alright. I can hold until the 30th-31st.
Patrick seems happy:
Hello,      I just got your information today and i want you to remove the item fromsales list because the check will be mailed out tomorrow and i willget back to you with the tracking # immediately, so that you will knowwhen to expect it. Then, i am going to include the mover's funds thatwill come down for pick up along with your payment. So once youreceive the check deduct your item fee and the rest funds goes to themover, so they would be able to come down for the pick up. Let me readfrom you if i should mail the check out . Thank You.
Notice, there is no mention of any monetary amount. We are asking $250 for the dining set, which, FYI, is a fantastic price. So we figured Patrick was sending us an official check or money order for $250, plus whatever fee was involved. I had no idea any of this was happening. My husband tells Patrick he will let Patrick know when the check arrives, and then remove the listing (he never removed the listing). Patrick thanks my husband, and writes he will email hubby with the tracking number, presumably for the registered letter containing the official check or money order.

It is at this point Patrick's scheme comes to light, with the following email:
Here is the tracking number(1Z X1V 296 01 4252 0891)for thepayment,you are to go ahead and deposit the check into your account assoon as you get it,You will be having a check of $1950 in there,thecheck will clear in your account within 24 hrs,Deduct your fee for theitem plus the extra $50 for your time and sincerity for holding it.Youwill have to send the remaining fund to the mover via money gram moneytransfer.Their money is that much because they are moving so manyother item for me from other locations. Note that the Money Gramtransfer charges will be deducted from the remaining funds going tothe movers and you can find Money Gram outlet at any Walmart Store ormall close to you to send the remainder to the movers using thedetails below.
RECEIVER NAME: Mary PantohanAddress: 208 Baseline RdCITY:......... LafayetteSTATE:........ COZIPCODE....... 80026
 After sending the movers money, get back to me with the info from theMoney Gram Office i.e Reference Number: Sender's name andaddress,exact amount sent after deduction of transfer charges: I willalso forward the info to the movers and we can find a convenient timefor you in which they will come for the pick up. I will be lookingforward to read from you,  Let me know if EVERYTHING is clear to youas i explained and instructed, Thanks.
Got it? We deposit the "official check," keep $300, take the rest out, and send it via Money Gram to Mary Pantohan in Lafayette, Colorado. Danger, Will Robinson. This is the first email I read, and I lost my everloving shit. I'm a former bank teller, and teller manager. Every alarm in my head was screaming "FRAUD!"

The check had arrived at our house, while we were at our new townhouse, painting, putting in wood floors, and cleaning 20+ years of grime off the ceilings, walls, and hanging lamps. Our son was home, though, so I gave him a call.

"Have we received anything like a registered letter, or something official looking?"


"Go get it, please."

He got it, opened the envelope, and said, "It's a check."

"Okay," I replied, "what's on it?"

He read the bank name, the company name, and the amount to me. I gave him instructions, thanked him, and hung up. And called him right back.

"I need you to take a few photos of the check and send those to me. Take a photo of the routing number, the account number, the name of the bank, and the name of the company. Include any addressed or phone numbers, okay?"

"Ugh, fine, hang on."

Within minutes, five photos appeared on my phone. The two I was most interested in were the bank and the company who allegedly authorized the check. The bank name was Santanda Bank, in New York. No such bank exists. The company was MidAm International, which also does not exist. The closest I could get was MidAmerica Productions, also in New York. I called them, and spoke to a very nice man named Joseph, who told me I was the eighth person to contact him about a fraudulent check. To recap: nonexistent bank, nonexistent company, which meant the "official check" was most likely printed in some asshole's basement.

It was now time to scam the scammer. Until the end of our exchange, Patrick Stevens was interacting with me, not my husband. My first email was an attempt to verify my husband had given Patrick our address, which, sadly, he had. Lesson learned, we're not ever doing that again without a DNA sample. Patrick's response to my query was:
 were you drunk when you saying all these ?? Please the check has been
delivered to the address you gave me so go ahead and do what we both
agreed or else you will regret ever met me , i gave you just 24hrs to
do what you need to do. Thanks
delivered to the address you gave me so go ahead and do what we bothagreed or else you will regret ever met me , i gave you just 24hrs todo what you need to do. Thanks
We will regret we ever met him. Sounds vaguely like a threat, doesn't it? Well, Patrick was just getting started, which was fine with me. I begin by asking Patrick for an address where we can mail his check:
We were expecting a check for the amount of the table and chairs, plus $50 for our inconvenience. We will put your check in the mail no later than Monday, January 18, 2016. Please forward the address to which you would like the check mailed.
 Patrick's response:
No that is not true, i told you i was going to include the movers feealong with your item fee
Hello,      I just got your information today and i want you to remove the item fromsales list because the check will be mailed out tomorrow and i willget back to you with the tracking # immediately, so that you will knowwhen to expect it. Then, i am going to include the mover's funds thatwill come down for pick up along with your payment. So once youreceive the check deduct your item fee and the rest funds goes to themover, so they would be able to come down for the pick up. Let me readfrom you if i should mail the check out . Thank You.
And this was your response
I will contact you when the check arrives. The listing will be removed.Thanks
so what the hell are you talking about? If you think you can play onme i will make sure you wrought in jail, I know you don't know me thatwas why you are acting up in these ways but i want to let you knowthat i work in sheriff's department so i have everything working on myfavor as everything is documented from the beginning of this sale. Solike i said i gave you 24hrs to do the needful or else i will get youdown , if you think you are smart i will tell you i am than you do.
Now he works for the sheriff's department. 

I had already Googled the address in Colorado, and discovered it is a multi-family residence. That woman, Mary Pantohan, does not exist, just like the bank and the company. Shocking, right? I continue:
Please send us the address you would like the official check returned to. We will be more than happy to send it back to you no later than Monday, January 18, 2016.
It's only fair to admit I was having a blast doing this. I'd already contacted our local police, so now, I was just scamming the scammer. Patrick's getting a wee bit perturbed now:
There is no way i will give you my address to send the check backbecause i cant void the check at the moment as the bank refusesvoiding of check at the moment so you need to make sure you have itdeposited and get me the money back in cash as the only way to accessthe money on the check because the check is written in your name andnot mine.We had an agreement before i asked the check to be drawn because i wastold by my the bank that they don't void check at the moment and yougave me go ahead with the check.
Technically, he's right. Since the check was fake, he couldn't void it. I keep going:
Then we will send the check to the address you gave us in Lafayette, Colorado, 208 Baseline Road.
Poke, poke poke. Now he's pissed:
 Do you realize that was not my address but the movers address ?I hopeyou are not trying to put yourself into trouble
Typing while giggling:
That address is a multi-family home, not a business. So, we'll send the check there on Monday.
 OK then, we shall see what happen , am sure you will regret theaction, i have informed them already and i was told a note will be putthere to reject any mail coming at the moment so you can continue towaste your time, When the 24hrs i gave is completed i will be in frontyou to show you how mad i am Good day please don't send me any emailagain except if you send me my money i had a tracker using on you andyour email so i know how to deal with people like you
Scary. He's going to be in front of us to show us how mad he is. Oooo. He knows how to "deal with" people like us. Well, I know how to deal with people like Patrick, so I introduce myself and try to help:
Mr. Stevens,
Good morning. I am Jim's wife, and a former teller manager. I understand you are concerned about the official check you sent us. The link below will give you information on how to void/cancel an official check. Although, given the name of the bank is misspelled on the official check you sent, I'm not sure how you should proceed once we return it.
Patrick's response is nothing short of epic:
I did not advise you to tell me how i can void check when the check isnot from you so Learn how to approach people you don't know and whatyou knows nothing about from the start, If you know you are learnedyou are suppose to ask on what the whole issue started on and not beensounding like you are a competent person or someone that knows all soask your so call husband what we agreed on and why he's trying to playgames on me when the check delivered, i wish you will not be in badmood by the time i bounce on him in less than 24hrs as i promised him.So please stay off because i did not know you and i did not haveanything to do with you because you were not part of the sales frombeginning. So dont put mouth into what you don't know. Thanks
He wishes I will not be in bad mood when he "bounce" on my husband in less than 24 hours. Is that a porn thing? I contacted our police department again, speaking with the same officer. He told me a police car would patrol our neighborhood until we returned, only because it's not our house, we're renting, and if some yahoo decided to "bounce," we might be held responsible for the damage. I asked the officer if I could shut Patrick Stevens down, and he said "Oh, I think it's time." And so, my final email to Patrick:
Mr. Stevens,
We have contacted local law enforcement, and they have alerted us to the fact that you are running a scam. Our house is under police watch, as well as neighborhood watch. This entire email thread is also being forwarded to the authorities, and we will be turning over the fraudulent official check to law enforcement.
Amazingly, we haven't heard squat from him since. And yes, the check is fake. He forgot to remove the VersaCheck logo, there's no watermark, and two obviously photocopied signatures on the bottom. MidAmerica Productions does not require two signatures on their official checks. The check, along with all the other information I was able to gather, will be turned over to the police tomorrow.

Patrick Stevens is obviously not this guy's name, but it's very likely he will use this scam again. If this happens to you, follow our lead. Verify the bank, verify the company. Dig, research, call people. And when you discover this is a scam, contact local law enforcement. If enough people fight back, perhaps the Patrick Stevens of the world will stop trying to scam innocent people out of their money.  
Visit this link for more information, and access to online forms. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The GOP debate proved we can't let any of these people into the White House

Last night, GOP presidential candidates gathered for another debate. Donald Trump, the current front-runner, was center stage, and made sure to tell everyone he was center stage. Rand Paul had a pretty good opening, as did John Kasich. Chris Christie managed to politicize the school closings in Los Angeles, and proved what a hypocrite he is by asking if mothers feel safe putting their kids on buses, while being one of many conservatives who refuse to do anything about gun violence. Marco Rubio implied President Obama doesn't love America, while Ted Cruz stated the president "refuses" to say radical Islam, something President Obama has explained.

Ben Carson spent a lot of time referring to his past as a pediatric neurosurgeon, while Carly Fiorina said she's been called "the B word," and that somehow qualifies her to be POTUS. If Hillary Clinton heard that, she most likely turned to an adviser, and said "Well, if that's all it takes, let's swear me in right now!" And of course, Trump talked about building a "great wall," how respected and liked he his (all while bullying and insulting other candidates), reminded us he is "good at things," and said there are tens of thousands of people with ISIS flags on their cell phones. Trump's cell phone claim was in response to a question about his ban on Muslims:

We are not talking about isolation. We're talking about security. We're not talking about religion. We're talking about security. Our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border. I will build a wall. It will be a great wall.
People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not come through that wall. As far as other people into migration where they're going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them. I don't think so, Wolf. They're not coming to this country. And if I'm president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They're going. They're gone. (source)
Ted Cruz talked about destroying ISIS and banning refugees, Chris Christie said terror is the "new normal" under Obama and Clinton, then told us "everywhere is a target" for terrorists. Kasich and Carson both want "boots on the ground" to fight ISIS, but as usual, forget there are people in those boots. And Trump doubled down on his desire to kill family members of ISIS, and shut down parts of the internet. Rand Paul responded to Trump:
If you are going to close the internet, realize America what that entails,” Paul said. “That entails getting rid of the First Amendment. It’s no small feat. If you are going to kill the families of terrorists realize there is something called the Geneva Convention which were going to have to pull out of.”
Paul said that following Trumps lead “would defy every norm that is America. So, when you ask yourself, whoever you are, if you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the constitution?” (source)
There was eye-rolling, coughing, glaring, muttering, smirking. Ted Cruz brought Mark Levin up as some sort of defense against Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush said Donald Trump can't "insult his way to the White House," and Trump responded by insulting Jeb Bush. Most of the candidates want to expand domestic spying. Of course, we can't forget Ben Carson's very strange answer to a question about North Korea:
I do believe he [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] is unstable and China has more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits and they have decided to use their resources to build their military than to feed their people and take care of the humanitarian responsibilities that they have.
We can capitalize on that. We can use that to keep Putin contained. He is a one horse show, energy. And we have an abundance of energy but we have archaic energy export rules. We need to get rid of those and make Europe dependent on us for energy, put him back in his little box where he belongs. And we need to do a lot of other things with the resources that we have. So that economic power works just as well as military power, perhaps better.
The military needs to be upgraded. You look at the Ohio glass submarines, the minuteman 3 missiles, the B-52 bombers, you know, if we don't get the military right nothing else matters.
Donald Trump wants to kill civilians and shut down the internet. Ben Carson thinks Vladimir Putin should be in a box, and possibly believes Putin is the leader of North Korea. Carly Fiorina used the gender card after saying she would never use the gender card, and thinks a general who retired in 2003 is somehow connected to President Obama. John Kasich wants more war, as does Ben Carson. Ted Cruz thinks the Obama administration targets "law-abiding" citizens, while ignoring terrorists, and talked about horse thieves.

We can't let any of these people into the White House. Not even for tours.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Republicans introduce legislation to fight the imaginary war on Christmas

Ah, America. Where many of our representatives ignore poverty, gun violence, mental health, a crumbling infrastructure, and wealth inequality, preferring to focus on more pressing issues like the imaginary war on Christmas. Representatives like Doug Lamborn, Republican from Colorado.

Rep. Lamborn has introduced legislation to protect Christmas. No, really. I'm not making this up. Look:
A group of House Republicans has signed onto legislation declaring support for Christmas.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) has introduced a resolution expressing the sense of the House that “the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas” amid warnings from the right that religion is being pushed out of the holiday. 
The resolution states that the house "strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas" and "expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas." 
Thirty-five fellow Republicans have signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors. (source)
H. Res. 564 states:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.
Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and
Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
You know what started this silliness? That yahoo and his "Red Cups" tirade. Yes, a guy whose only goal in life is to make money from misleading viral videos and horrible click bait articles, inspired a bunch of ignorant right-wingers to introduce an actual resolution to protect a holiday steeped in paganism.

Where in the bible does anyone write Jesus was born on December 25? Nowhere, because that date was chosen by Pope Julius. Christmas trees? Used by pagans to celebrate the winter solstice, and the Romans, to celebrate Saturnalia. Holly, ivy, and other greenery? Pagans. Santa? Based on a Turkish saint.

Jesus wasn't born on December 25. Almost every Christmas tradition is pagan in origin. But we have politicians wasting our money and time, introducing legislation to protect Christmas from...well...nothing. No one is attacking Christmas. Not Starbucks, not liberals, not atheists, no one. Should a nativity scene be put up on government land? No, of course not. You can put up all the plastic white people dressed in robes you want on your very own lawn. Should a public school feature a live nativity scene in a play? Nope. A parochial school can, though. 

As Jon Stewart once said, conservative Christians confuse "persecution" with "not getting their way." Not being able to blur the line between church and state just because a pope created a holiday isn't the same as being shot, or beaten, or murdered, because of your religion. 

In truth, there is a bit of a skirmish being waged when it comes to acting like Jesus. Banning Muslims, refusing sanctuary to refugees, shaming the poor, that sort of thing. Guess who's leading the charge in that skirmish? The very same people who decry the imaginary war on Christmas. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide, Happy Holidays. Let's all try to be a little less like Rep. Lamborn, and a little more like Rebel Jesus.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

You will know them from their fruits

There is a passage in the book of Matthew that reads:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Fruits are deeds. What a person does is an indication of who they are, what they believe. If a person claims to be, for example, a Christian, but only promotes and supports hate and violence, they are bearing bad fruit. 

One such person is Joshua Feuerstein. Mr. Feuerstein calls himself a Christian, when in truth, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is a bearer of bad fruit. Mr. Feuerstein advocates violence against abortion providers, believes Christians should take up arms to "defend" ourselves from gay rights, and he owns a website that frequently, if not constantly, lies. One recent example of this is an aggregated piece entitled "Woman on CNN Blames Dead Victims of CA Shooting for Having 'Offensive' Christmas Party." Except that is not what Casey Jordan said

Dr. Jordan appeared on CNN with Don Lemon the day of the San Bernadino shooting. As a criminologist and behavioral analyst, Dr. Jordan spoke of possible motivations for the crime, saying:
They can have Arabic or Middle Eastern names as well, but the key is that from the beginning everything that was reported about him, going into this conference room where there was a holiday party which may have been offensive to him. But the bottomline is the motivation always appeared to be intrinsic not, extrinsic. Still, he was prepared for this. He didn’t — you know, it was almost like he was looking for an excuse to go get the guns, get the female getaway driver — you know, put on his fatigues and let it look like terrorism. So, I’m in total agreement that terrorism and disgruntled employee can be a mash up. This can be an amalgamation of both, but I really do think his motive was very intrinsic. It was personal. It was about a grudge and it looks like terrorism and he might like that, but it isn’t what it’s about. 
Nowhere in her statement does Dr. Jordan blame the victims. She simply says the party may have been offensive to the shooter in an attempt to, in the moment by moment coverage of a horrible event, delve into possible motives. Dr. Jordan puts the blame for this squarely on the shooter's shoulders. But that narrative wouldn't play to the fears of Feuerstein's fans, so he bears bad fruit in order to increase traffic to his site and make money.

On December 8, a writer on Feuerstein's site named John S. Roberts (who is also a writer for Young Conservatives, another right wing click bait site) published a piece entitled "Cincinnati will soon Ban VITAL Biblical Counseling to LGBT Youth." Again, a lie. Cincinnati is trying to ban reperative, or conversion, therapy for LGBT youth. Roberts calls people who oppose conversion therapy "radical fanatics on the left." The Surgeon General opposes conversion therapy, as does the American Psychological Association. The AMA, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and so many other organizations, all state conversion therapy is harmful. According to John S. Roberts and Joshua Feuerstein, all these groups are "radical fanatics on the left."

Above this false "article" is a photo, the featured image. That photo is Leelah Alcorn, the 17-year-old transgender girl who killed herself last year. Joshua Feuerstein, a man who calls himself a Christian, allowed a writer on his website to post a photo of a girl who ended her own life because her family refused to accept her for who she was. Feuerstein has removed the reprehensible "article" from his Facebook page, but you can still find it on his website

This is bad fruit. This is a man who poses for selfies holding a gold-plated Desert Eagle handgun worth over $2,000 while begging for money on the internet. This is a man who promotes violence against Muslims, and the LGBT community, all the while calling himself a follower of Jesus. And this is a man who has almost 2 million fans on Facebook, and whose website has a domestic Alexa rating of 8,151. The majority of his website's traffic comes directly from Facebook. In other words, Joshua Feuerstein posts incendiary, misleading, hateful, and often flat-out false links on his Facebook page, and his 1.8 million followers click those links. 

There are good and wonderful Christians on the internet, doing their best to make the world a better place. My friend, Jason Dye, who uses social media to promote equality and social justice. Father Nathan Monk, a man who has made it his mission in life to help the homeless and disenfranchised. Former President Jimmy Carter, who builds houses for Habitat for Humanity, and speaks out against hate. Rachel Held Evans, an evangelical Christian author. 

You will know them from their fruits. Joshua Feuerstein's fruits are rotten, toxic, and sour. What he preaches is the opposite of actual Christianity. He banned me from his Facebook page for challenging his click bait lies, and he will ban others who try to do the same. Because if it's one thing a false prophet cannot abide, it's having his deception dragged into the light. 

For more information on how to help transgender youth, please visit Trans Youth Equality Forum.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Trump calls for ban on Muslims entering United States

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Donald Trump released a statement on his website, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. In the statement, Mr. Trump references a poll by the Center for Security Policy, and claims this poll shows a large majority of Muslims living in the U.S. support violence against Americans, and that Muslims in America believe they should have the choice of being governed by Shariah law. This article will take a closer look at the data Trump relies on for his call for banning Muslims, and at the Center for Security Policy.

First, the data. According to the poll (seen here), six hundred Muslims living in the U.S. were contacted by the Center for Security Policy. Six hundred out of millions. But when you click the link to the poll, the meta description reads "nationwide poll of us muslims shows thousands support shariah jihad." They polled six hundred Muslims, and yet, "thousands" support Shariah law and jihad. Right off the bat, there's something fishy about this poll.

The first question asked of Muslim-Americans is "How do you characterize Shariah?" The majority of respondents-47%-answered "A guide to the personal practice of Islam." Then the respondents were asked to clarify their belief in Shariah, and the majority said "It is up to the individual Muslim to define Shariah." The majority also stated if Shariah law conflicts with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, those two are "supreme" to Shariah law. 

As to being able to choose Shariah law in reference to governing, 31% strongly agreed, 28% somewhat agreed, while 12% somewhat disagreed, and 9% strongly disagreed. But the next question clarifies those responses. When asked if Shariah law, as interpreted by Islamic authorities, is compatible with the Constitution, including freedom of speech and religion, 60% agreed. 

The next series of questions deal with the violence Trump and his followers believe is foremost in the minds of every Muslim in this country. When respondent were asked if violence against anyone who insults Mohammed, the Qur'an, or Islam, is sometimes acceptable, 61% said no. Only 16% said yes, and using math, this means out of the six hundred Muslim-Americans polled, 97 were okay with violence. We could go on, but it's time for a closer look at the Center for Security Policy. You can view the entire poll in PDF format at this link.

The Center for Security Policy was founded in 1988 by Frank Gaffney. Gaffney has a bio published at Southern Poverty Law Center, in which he is revealed to be a raging Islamophobe. From SPLC:
Once a respectable Washington insider, Frank Gaffney Jr. is now one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes. Gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within, Gaffney believes that “creeping Shariah,” or Islamic religious law, is a dire threat to American democracy. He favors congressional hearings to unmask subversive Muslim conspiracies, and was even banned from far-right Conservative Political Action Conference events after accusing two of its organizers of being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. 
The piece also contains statements Gaffney has made about Muslims. This is from a 2011 article he wrote for CSP:
So pervasive now is the MB’s [Muslim Brotherhood’s] ‘civilization jihad’ within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order. To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-era’s HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee] and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American – and anti-constitutional – activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists fifty years ago. 
And this is from a column Gaffney wrote for
We know for a fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has as its mission the worldwide imposition of Islam's toxic, brutally repressive and anti-constitutional supremacist doctrine known as Shariah. And yes, it means here, too.
Gaffney's claim that Huma Abedin was part of the Muslim brotherhood was completely unfounded, and unsupported, but several prominent conservatives jumped on Gaffney's bandwagon. Gaffney also went after Grover Norquist, stating Norquist was secretly helping the Muslim brotherhood. Why? Grover Norquist's wife is Palestinian-American. And in 2009, during an appearance on Hardball, Gaffney said:
 There is also circumstantial evidence, not proven by any means, but nonetheless some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence, of Saddam Hussein's Iraq being involved with the people who perpetrated both the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and even the Oklahoma City bombing. (source)
Frank Gaffney is who Donald Trump turns to in order to rile up his xenophobic and Islamophobic followers. Two men, desperately afraid, manipulating data and statistics to incite fear and hatred. Like so many conservatives, Trump and Gaffney refuse to acknowledge that we as a country are in greater danger from people like them than we are from Islamic extremists. 

We have met the enemy, and he is us. 

(end quote by Walt Kelly)